White House Launches Global Initiative to Decriminalize Homosexuality

The administration is responding in part to a reported hanging of a young gay man in Iran.

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The White House is launching a global effort to end the criminalization of homosexuality in the dozens of countries where it still exists around the world.

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, the highest-profile openly gay person in the Trump administration, is leading the effort, NBC News reported. The U.S. embassy in Berlin is flying in LGBT activists from across Europe to strategize ways to tackle the issue, with a heavy concentration on Middle Eastern, African and Caribbean nations.

“It is concerning that, in the 21st century, some 70 countries continue to have laws that criminalize LGBTI status or conduct,” a U.S. official said.

Although an approach is still being hammered out, those familiar with the inner workings said it’s likely to include working with global organizations like the United Nations, the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, as well as other countries whose laws already allow for gay rights. The State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor is also involved.

The initiative is narrowly focused on criminalization, rather than broader LGBT issues like same-sex marriage, NBC notes, but the campaign was also conceived partly in response to the recent reported execution by hanging of a young gay man in Iran — the Trump administration’s top international foe.

Grenell, as Trump’s envoy to Germany, has been an outspoken Iran critic and has aggressively pressed European nations to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal and re-impose sanctions.

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